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Apricot and Edamame Stir-Fry

Who doesn’t like a good stir fry? They’re flexible, relatively quick and absolutely packed with different flavors and textures. This stir fry is loaded with shelled edamame, bamboo shoots, and fresh ginger.

Serves 2

Assemble the Following:

  • 2 TBSP. Soybean Oil
  • 1/3 C. Onion, Minced
  • 2 Large Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 1/2 Inch Fresh Ginger Root, Minced
  • 1 1/2 C. Bok Choy or Cabbage, Chopped
  • 1/2 C. Red Bell Pepper, Coarsely Chopped
  • 1/4 C. Fresh Cilantro
  • 1/4 C. Bamboo Shoots
  • 1 C. Edamame, Cooked and Shelled
  • 1 C. Broccoli, Blanched
  • 1 Scant TBSP. Soy Sauce
  • 1 TBSP. Apricot Preserves
  • Pinch Cumin
  • 1 TSP. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 TBSP. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2/3 to 1 C. Cooked White Rice

Do This With It:

  • Heat wok or large heavy skillet with oil, very high heat.
  • Add Onions and Cabbage, fry until tender.
  • Add Red Pepper, garlic, and most of the ginger, fry until tender.
  • Add Cilantro, and Bamboo Shoots, reduce to medium heat.
  • Slowly stir in Soy Sauce, reduce to low heat.
  • Add Edamame and Broccoli.
  • Add Apricot Preserves, stir or toss until thickened and reduced.
  • Add dried spices and remaining ginger, remove from heat.
  • With wet fingertips mold heaping tablespoons of rice into little balls for plating.

Notes:

  • I leave the peel on my ginger; you get a much bolder flavor this way.
  • I remember now when Alton Brown did a show on Stir-Fry, he emphasized the importance of having every ingredient ready to go before you even heat the oil. Well, he wasn’t kidding. The good news is I think I may have broken a world speed record for shelling Edamame.
  • You can just pile the stir-fry on a bed of rice and forgo the rice-balls, but they add a flair to the presentation don’t you think?

Orzo Salad with Pole Beans and Sautéed Veggies

Summer is the perfect time for a cold pasta salad. Served with burgers off the grill, or by itself this take on pasta salad is just as refreshing as it is filling. It keeps well, so make a little extra and enjoy over the next few days. Planning a barbecue or a picnic? Make this a day ahead and refrigerate overnight to really let the flavors marry up and combine.

Serves Four as a side-dish, or Two as a main.

Assemble The Following:

  • 1/4 C Orzo, uncooked
  • 1/4 C. Finely Minced Onion
  • 1/2 C. Scallions or Spring Onion, Coarse Chop
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 1-2 Roma Tomatoes, Cubed
  • 1/4 C. Black Olives, Rough Chop
  • Handful of Fresh Cilantro
  • 1 C. Italian Pole Beans, Blanched and Shelled
  • 3/4 C. Vegetable Stock
  • Italian Seasoning, Salt and Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan and Asiago  Cheese Blend

Do This With It:

  • Bring Vegetable Stock to boil.
  • Sautee onion and 1/4 C. Scallion in olive oil until tender.
  • Add Garlic, and Italian seasoning.
  • Before garlic browns, add 1 C. Hot vegetable stock, tomatoes, and mushrooms.
  • Reduce heat to simmer, and slowly cook until all the stock has been absorbed by the mushrooms, remove from heat.
  • Cook Orzo in remaining vegetable stock until al-dente.
  • Drain Pasta and rinse, toss with a little olive oil and allow to cool.
  • Combine cooled vegetables, pole beans, olives, remaining 1/4 C. scallion, and cilantro. Toss gently.
  • Refrigerate 1-2 hours to allow all the flavors to really get to know each other.
  • Serve with sprinkling of cheese and topped with more scallion greens.

Notes and Abstract:

  • I misjudged the pole beans big time. 1 Cup is what I was shooting for before I shelled them. Needless to say, four large handfuls of the beans before cooking and shelling yielded only about 1/4  Cup.

Chickpea and Potato Stuffed Pasta

So you’re down to the nitty gritty on groceries in the house. It’s five million degrees outside, making the normally reprehensible task of going to the market carry the added risk of spontaneous combustion. It’s time to get creative. I wanted to stuff pasta with something, but I only had lasagna noodles. As for the stuffing, I could only produce potatoes and garbanzo beans and some leafy greens.  Meager beginnings, at best. The end result however was delicious, with seasonings and flavors that evoke Indian Cuisine. When I’m better prepared, I’ll try this out with puff pastry.

Assemble the Following:

  • 1 Large Potato, diced
  • 2 C. Cooked Garbanzo beans
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 C. Red Onion, diced
  • 1/4 C. Red Pepper
  • 1/2 C. Cilantro
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • Dried Ginger, to taste
  • Dried Cumin, to taste
  • Dried Parsley Flakes, to taste
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Lasagna Noodles, fully cooked

Do this with it:

  • Sauté the potatoes, pepper, garlic and onion in olive oil until tender. Drain and reserve the oil.
  • Combine spices garbanzo beans, cilantro and sautéed potatoes, garlic and onion in a mixing bowl and mash until smooth and well combined.
  • Lay noodles flat on the work surface and spoon 1 TBSP of the stuffing onto the ends of the noodles.
  • Roll noodle ends over stuffing, add more stuffing and continue to roll making a spiral.
  • Heat the reserved oil and fry the noodle spirals, turning regularly until crisp on the outside.
  • Plate with fresh vegetables, or slice into sections to serve as an appetizer.

This would also make a really nice ravioli or shell pasta stuffing. Additionally I found that if you add all purpose flour to the stuffing mix, you can fry it into little balls or patties.

Kitchen Essentials: Super Rooster Salsa

Salsa is good for so many things. It’s so versatile, that it’s become an essential in my kitchen. It finds its way into so many of my creations. The idea behind the Kitchen Essentials series is that you regularly have these things on hand. Unfortunately this salsa is so good, it barely lasts two days in my home, and I live alone. It packs some serious heat so it’s not for the faint of heart, or the weak of stomach. Of course you can always modify or eliminate some of the ingredients to take out some of the fire, but what would be the fun in that?

Assemble the following:

  • 3 C. Fresh tomatoes of your favorite variety, diced into small cubes
  • 1 C. Red onion, finely minced
  • 1/2 C. White onion finely minced
  • 1 Large clove of garlic, very finely minced
  • 1 medium sized Jalapeno pepper, cleaned of seeds, very finely minced
  • 2 Medium Anaheim pepper, cleaned of seeds, very finely minced
  • 1 Small Serrano Pepper, cleaned of seeds, very finely minced
  • 1/2 Small Habanero Pepper, very finely minced
  • 2 Medium yellow bell pepper, cleaned of seeds diced into small cubes
  • 1 1/2 C. Cilantro, stems removed coarsely chopped
  • 2 TSP. granulated sugar
  • 2 TBSP. lime juice
  • 2 TBSP. Mango or Pineapple Juice
  • Lime zest
  • 1/2 TSP. Ground Coriander
  • 1 TSP. Fresh ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Do this with it:

Use non-reactive (glass or plastic) mixing bowls and utensils only.

  • Spread diced tomatoes in single layer and sprinkle lightly and evenly with sugar.
  • Combine red and white onion, cilantro, garlic and lime juice in small mixing bowl. Blend thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate twenty minutes.
  • Combine peppers with Mango or Pineapple juice in another small mixing bowl. Blend thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate twenty minutes.
  • In large mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, black pepper and coriander. Blend thoroughly before incorporating onion and pepper mixtures.
  • Blend everything thoroughly and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving as a dip for chips.

Notes and Abstract:

  • Be careful with the capsicum peppers, they’re awfully dangerous!
  • Only use non-reactive glass or plastic mixing bowls and utensils for this. Nearly every ingredient in this recipe reacts with metal, and no one likes partially oxidized salsa.
  • The heat of the salsa can be moderated by adding the pepper mixture in small increments until desired level of heat is reached. If you have left over peppers sauté them in some olive oil until reduced, and make your own super-spicy Recaito! Recaito can be added in small amounts to countless dishes to give it a real kick.
  • This salsa is great as a dip for chips, a topping for burgers or a salad, blended with rice, or as a spicy addition to a pasta sauce. Like any of the other Kitchen Essentials, it has countless uses.

Kitchen Essentials: Mushroom Stock

Assemble The Following:

  • 1 Large Red Onion Cut into sixths, bulb intact
  • 5 Large Carrots quartered, skin intact
  • 5 Large Celery Ribs, Halved
  • 5 Stalks Bok Choy
  • 1/4 Lb. each of Cilantro and Parsley
  • 2 Lbs. White Mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on size, cleaned
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 4 Qt. Water

Do This With It:

  • Sautee veggies in 5 Qt. stock pot, until onions are tender, and greens are wilted. About Ten Minutes.
  • Cover with water and bring to rapid boil for an ten to fifteen minutes. Reduce Heat.
  • Simmer for an hour.
  • Strain vegetables from stock pot.
  • Add Mushrooms (in increments if using a small stock pot).
  • Simmer on low heat until mushrooms are reduced by half, roughly one hour.
  • Strain stock through a fine cloth to remove smallest particles.

As with all stock recipes, any vegetables you have on hand will work just fine. This Makes about four quarts, or sixteen cups. Freeze in one to two cup portions in vacuum packages.

Five Alarm Potato and Black Bean Soup

Five Alarm Potato and Black Bean SoupA very spicy Black Bean and Potato Soup. It’s easy to prepare, and stores well frozen or refrigerated.  Served in small portions, this soup makes a great compliment to any Mexican/Southwestern meal. It’s hearty, but so spicy it’ll make your ears tingle.  Adjust the amount of crushed red pepper to reduce the intensity of the spice.

Assemble the following:

  • 1/8 C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 CL Garlic (Fine Mince)
  • 1/4 C. White Onion (Fine Mince)
  • 2 TBSP. White Onion (Coarse Chop)
  • 1/4 C. Celery Leaves (Coarse Chop)
  • 2 TBSP Celery (Coarse Chop)
  • 3 TBSP. Recaito
  • 5 TSP. Crushed Dried Red Pepper
  • 1 TBSP. Paprika
  • 1 TBSP. Dried Marjoram
  • 1/4 LB. Russet Potatoes (Peeled, Cubed to 1/4 inch, Par-Boiled and rinsed cold.)
  • 2 C. Stewed Tomatoes (Drained)
  • 2 Cans Reduced Sodium Black Beans (Drained and Rinsed)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.

Do this with it:

  • Bring 1 1/4 QT water to boil, add 3 TSP red pepper, salt and pepper, marjoram and boil until reduce to 1 QT.
  • Heat the Olive Oil and Recaito and add minced garlic, onion, 2 TSP red pepper, and chopped celery leaves.  Sauté until tender and aromatic.
  • Drain tomatoes, coat in paprika, chop.
  • Add sautéed aromatics to water, and reduce heat to simmer.
  • Add beans, tomatoes, and potatoes, coarse chopped onion and celery.
  • Simmer until potatoes are tender, about thirty minutes.

Black Bean Quesadilla


Are you looking for a spicy and savory treat to fill up the whole family? Do you need to do it quickly and with practically no clean up? Well, you have arrived at just the right recipe to satisfy your needs. This quesadilla is simple, fun, fast, and exceptionally clean. It uses only two skillets, a cutting board and a knife (plus serving dishes) and will render your family or guests well satisfied. Any kind of veggies can be used (as usual) but I was in a particularly red mood today. With the President being awarded a Nobel Prize for his aspirations instead of achievements, I felt it only necessary to eat the Right color; so as to infuse myself with Republican Color and Spirit inside and out. Eating this dish exactly as I have prepared it will not make you a Republican, but it will satisfy you and it is relatively inexpensive to make, so you enjoy the best parts of being a Right-Winger in a very delicious dish: it’s inexpensive and yields simple personal satisfaction. Ninety Percent of these ingredients were purchased at very low cost at one of the local farm produce stands near my home.

Makes two Quesadillas.

Assemble the Following:

  • ½ TBSP. Recaito (Cilantro Cooking Base)
  • ½ TBSP. Olive Oil
  • ⅓ C. Scallion or Green Onion, diced
  • ¼ C. Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • ½ C. Red Bell Pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Small Red Capsicum pepper, seeded, cleaned, very finely chopped
  • 1-1½ C. Black Beans, Canned Organic
  • ¼ C. Queso Cheese
  • 2 Flour Tortillas
  • Salsa, your favorite kind

Do this with it:

  • Heat small sauté with Recaito and Olive oil.
  • Sauté chopped and diced vegetables until tender.
  • Add Black Beans and continue to cook on medium-low heat.
  • Toast one tortilla at a time in large fry pan or on Iron Skillet over medium heat, until pliable and warm.
  • Spoon half the vegetable/bean mixture onto half the tortilla and add Queso cheese.
  • Fold tortilla at halfway point and seal over vegetable/bean mix.
  • Cook until shell is done to desired crispness.
  • Remove to cutting board when done and allow to stand for two to three minutes before cutting into quarters.
  • Repeat with second tortilla.
  • Serve with salsa of choice.

Notes and Abstract:

  • Use the veggies that are easily available and in season where you are. I found a great deal on most of these ingredients at the Gillis Farm Produce Stand. You’re not only doing the farmers a favor by buying direct form them, you’re doing yourself a favor in the amount of money you save. Red bell peppers were a buck a piece at Gillis’s farm as opposed to $2.99 per pound at the market. You’re eating local fresh produce that tastes soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much better than that which is shipped from Canada or Mexico. It’s better for your immune system too!!!
  • If the products are best made in Mexico, use them. I have yet to taste a Recaito that was acceptable that came from anywhere other than Mexico, excluding the home-made. Sometimes the Goya Brand market products are the best.
  • DO NOT, DO NOT, and DO NOT touch your face after handling the capsicum. Regardless of how short your fingernails are and well seasoned and burnt-off your fingertips are, you will severely regret touching any sensitive skin or mucous membrane after handling any spicy pepper. I know this from excruciatingly painful experience. Take my word for it. The best way to keep your hands free of dangerous capsicum is to wear food-grade nitrile gloves while handling any capsicum pepper, or just keep your hands away from your face for twelve to twenty-four hours after their handling.
  • I served this with some organic Fire Roasted Salsa Verde I picked up from the market.

Sunset Roll-Ups


Hot days, the blazing sun, humidity, and hard work: there is nothing like outdoor chores in the middle of a sweltering Southern summer. So much of the work we do outside in the summer lacks any gratification. It’s usually hard labor in a shade-less yard, with bugs everywhere, and a near guarantee (if you live in the South) that one of your neighbors is having a conversation about you. These light and tasty gourmet rollups will refresh and rejuvenate that person in your life who doesn’t actively try to avoid yard work. They are served cool or even cold, so they could be prepared in advance if you happen to be that Summer Yard Warrior you’d like to treat after a hard day’s work on the façade of your home.

Assemble the following:

  • Cooked Chicken (Leftovers)
  • Tomato
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Italian Parsley
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Swiss Cheese
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Leafy Lettuce

Do this with it:

Chicken:

  • I used meat from a whole baked chicken, and pulled and shredded it.

Marinade:

  • Finely chop and lightly sauté the tomato and garlic in olive oil, not letting it caramelize.
  • Coarsely chop cilantro and parsley.
  • Divide parsley and cilantro in half between the lemon juice and the mixture in the pan.
  • Add crushed red pepper to the pan and blend the contents thoroughly before returning to heat.
  • Sauté briefly still not letting anything caramelize, before adding lemon juice.
  • Remove to mixing bowl (reserving half) and add chicken while marinade is still hot.
  • Refrigerate.

Lemon Herb Sauce:

  • Mix reserved garlic tomato herb blend with lemon juice
  • Refrigerate.

Roll-Up:

  • In small sauté reheat chicken to warm (not hot)
  • Nuke the tortillas for about thirty seconds.
  • Layer the leaf lettuce and Swiss cheese over half the tortilla.
  • Distribute warm chicken over the cheese and roll the tortilla in a spiral.
  • Use Lemon Herb Sauce to seal the tortilla and drizzle over the top of roll-up.
  • Slice in half and serve on cold plate with Italian parsley and carrot shred garnish.

Afterthoughts:

Even distribution of the ingredients across the tortilla is the key to getting a good cross section, just leave enough wrap at the end to secure the rollup.
Made with larger wraps this could make a great appetizer, cut into smaller pieces.